First and foremost, it is important to remember an arrest for DUI does not mean guilt, nor does it have to mean a conviction. For most of those charged with a Georgia DUI, this is their first run-in with the law. Perhaps a good person made one bad decision, or perhaps the accused was not actually driving while impaired. Whatever the circumstances, having a strong legal advocateis crucial. Because there are so many negative, long-term penalties and consequences which come with a Georgia DUI conviction, it is important to fully understand those penalties and consequences. The criminal penalties for a Georgia DUI conviction include the following:
First Offense DUI
- Potential jail time from 10 days to one year can occur, although all but 24 hours of the sentence may be probated.
- 12 months of probation
- An alcohol and drug evaluation with a counselor
- The fines associated with a first offense DUI can range from $300 to a maximum of $1,000.
- The driver’s license of the person convicted of DUI could be suspended for up to a year.
- There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 hours of community service after a first-time DUI conviction.
- DUI first offenders must complete DUI School or the Risk Reduction Program
- When it is time for the offender to have his/her driver’s license reinstated, a fee of $210 will apply.
Second Offense DUI Occurring Within Five Years of the First DUI Offense
- The jail sentence for a second offense DUI could range from 90 days maximum of one year, plus 12 months of probation.72 hours actual incarceration are mandatory.
- The fines for a second DUI conviction could range from $600 to $1,000.
- A second offense DUI will result in a minimum of 30 days community service.
- A second offense DUI could result in a suspension of the driver’s license for up to three years.
- The second offense DUI could result in a mandatory clinical evaluation as well as completion of a substance abuse treatment program paid for by the offender.
- A license reinstatement fee plus the driver’s photo will be published in the local newspaper as a repeat DUI offender.
- Mandatory Ignition Interlock on personal vehicles.
Third DUI Offense Occurring Within Five Years of the Second DUI Offense
- Conviction for a third DUI offense can range from 120 days to one year with a mandatory minimum of 15 days incarceration.
- Fines increase significantly for a third DUI offense occurring within five years of the second DUI conviction—as high as $1,000 to $5,000.
- The license of the person convicted of a third DUI offense could be revoked for up to five years.
- Following a third DUI conviction the violator’s name, photograph and address could be published in a local newspaper—at the violator’s expense.
- A third DUI conviction can result in the violator being declared a habitual violator. As such, the license plate on the violator’s vehicle will be seized, sent to the court, and forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety.
- Mandatory attendance at a DUI school, paid for by the offender, will be required following a conviction for a third Georgia DUI.
- A mandatory clinical evaluation, as well as possible completion of a substance abuse treatment program, paid for by the offender, could result from a third Georgia DUI offense.
Penalties for a Georgia DUI conviction may also depend on the age of the violator as well as other factors. Commercial vehicle drivers who are over the age of 21 could be charged with DUI for a BAC of .04 percent or higher. Drivers under the age of 21 could be charged with a Georgia DUI for a BAC reading of .02 percent or greater. Individuals under the age of 21 with a BAC of .02 percent or higher will be charged with a misdemeanor for a first and second offense and a gross misdemeanor for a third or subsequent offense. Individuals over the age of 21 will be charged with a misdemeanor for the first or second DUI offense, an aggravated misdemeanor for the third offense and a felony for the fourth and subsequent DUI offenses.
Harsher criminal punishments may result if a child or children were in the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, whether there were other moving violations and whether property damage, injury or death occurred as the result of the DUI offense. As a result of public pressure and media attention, a judge may choose to impose harsher sentencing, and are rarely lenient when an individual pleads guilty. In addition to criminal penalties, an individual with a DUI conviction (first, second, third or subsequent) could lose their job, or have difficulty obtaining a job. Insurance rates could become prohibitively expensive or auto insurance could be canceled entirely.
The stakes are extremely high when you are facing DUI charges. Working with a Georgia DUI attorney who is experienced and has a history of obtaining the best results for DUI clients is absolutely worth the investment. Melanie Ellwanger is that attorney. Melanie brings unique experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judicial candidate and will defend your DUI charges aggressively. Call Melanie Ellwanger at 404-803-3105 for a dedicated, knowledgeable attorney who will work hard for the best outcome and will be a constant advocate in your corner.